“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” –African Proverb
The YES program promotes interfaith relations and is happy to support the World Interfaith Harmony Week. The World Interfaith Harmony Week is February 1 through February 7 and celebrates collaboration of different religions.
“With the current climate in the world, it’s the perfect time to discuss our similarities instead of what we differ on,” said Christelle Enega, YES program coordinator for IRIS.
The YES program recruits students from religiously diverse countries and encourages students and alumni to initiate interfaith dialogue within their communities through projects.
IRIS alumna, Aziza Amour, a young Muslim woman from Tanzania, plans on accomplishing this by hosting presentations in her community and inviting a variety of religions to help complete community service events.
“The purpose of them joining me in my community service works is to equip young people with skills to navigate in a religiously and culturally diverse world,” Amour said.
During Amour’s time abroad, she lived with a family of a different religion and hosted programming for different religions in her host community. The purpose of the programming was to share individual’s religious differences and similarities.
YES alumni Blessing Ogbu, from Nigeria, plans on improving community interfaith relations through sports.
“This is a language that is understood by the people of every religion, faith, beliefs and traditions,” Ogbu, a Christian, said. “It can break stereotypes that Muslims or Christians are limited to certain fields and also builds the spirit of teamwork and oneness. It also builds friendship that go beyond the field.”
During Ogbu’s time in high school, she served as the public relations officer and president for the Students Advocate for Tax club, a club whose mission is to drive the culture of Nigeria to a tax-paying mindset.
“Whenever we had meetings or went out for a function, we begin with prayers from both a Christian and a Muslim,” Ogbu said. “It actually built up relationships between us because we didn’t look at each other as Christians and Muslims but as tax advocates spreading the word of tax out to the general public.”
To support the World Interfaith Harmony Week, spread the word and initiate discussion and programming within your own neighbourhoods about religious differences. Hosting a student is one of the best ways to create interfaith dialogue and build more tolerant communities right here in Iowa. By working together, not only can we strengthen our communities but we can strengthen the movement.
If interested in creating interfaith dialogue through hosting a student please contact IRIS today at (515) 292-7103.